Phil Murphy has selected Pete Cammarano as his chief of staff to help him in governing the state of New Jersey. Mr. Cammarano served as the head of the New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association. Do you think New Jersey residents are ready for recreational marijuana as early as next year?
The Garden State could soon become a bit more green.
Proponents of legalized marijuana in New Jersey are lining up in the aftermath of Phil Murphy’s election as governor, anticipating no-questions-asked pot sales to adults by late next year with an ally in the governor’s office.
Murphy has named the head of a marijuana trade group as his chief of staff, and a new association for marijuana retailers has formed. The governor-elect vowed during his campaign to legalize the drug, and the growing industry is counting on him to quickly make good on the pledge.
“We have significant momentum,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union County, the sponsor of the marijuana bill. “It’s not just me anymore. People have come around to the idea that this takes drug dealers off the streets and would mean new revenue. There’s a million reasons to do this.”
Voters in eight states and the District of Columbia have approved ballot measures since 2012 allowing recreational use of marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. New Jersey could be the first state to legalize marijuana through legislation, although Vermont lawmakers are considering a similar measure.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie has been a staunch opponent of permitting marijuana use, calling supporters “crazy liberals” who want to “poison our kids.” Scutari said he has held back on calling for a vote on his bill, which was introduced in May, in anticipation of a Christie veto.
But with Murphy taking office in January, Scutari said, he expects movement on his bill early in the new governor’s term, a position echoed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who has been elected to a new term leading the upper chamber.